UCI Basic Needs Center director Andrea Mora with the brand new Mobile Food Pantry.
“We envisioned a second pantry model that would bring food closer to students, and with the mobile food pantry, it’s now available,” says Andrea Mora (shown in vehicle), director of the UCI Basic Needs Center. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 13, 2023 The Basic Needs Center at the University of California, Irvine will unveil its new mobile food pantry, a 22-foot-long customized delivery van, at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Pereira Drive roundabout in front of the Aldrich Hall flagpoles. The first 200 attendees will receive collapsible Tupperware products.

The center will also launch its ZotFunder campaign, running until Dec. 31, to raise money to stock the mobile pantry, which is designed to make food more accessible to all enrolled students at UCI and bring it nearer to where they live.

The UCI Basic Needs Center received an innovation grant of $245,000 from the UC Office of the President to purchase and adapt the van, now painted blue and adorned with colorful images of produce and anteaters. Food distributions will begin on Dec. 8 at Arroyo Vista housing and on Dec. 15 at Verano 8 housing. The winter-quarter distribution schedule is pending, but the vehicle will be at these locations once per month on Fridays.

“For years, we’ve been hearing from students that access is really important to them. We envisioned a second pantry model that would bring food closer to students, and with the mobile food pantry, it’s now available,” said Andrea Mora, director of the UCI Basic Needs Center.

Once students check in at the vehicle, they will select items from a menu of perishables (milk, almond milk, eggs, yogurt, tofu and frozen prepared meals), nonperishables (bread, pasta, oats, peanut butter, tuna, soup and beans) and produce (apples, oranges, lemons, yams, potatoes, onions and carrots). They will also be screened for CalFresh benefits eligibility and have access to informational resources.

The mobile food pantry will operate in tandem with the UCI Basic Needs Center’s FRESH Pantry, which will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays as of Dec. 8.

Students wishing to use the mobile pantry will be told its location when they make an appointment through the UCI Basic Needs Center website. Appointments are currently required, but this may change based on the first distribution. The center may start taking walk-ins around 2 p.m. on Dec. 15.

“We’re excited to take this new effort out to the community,” Mora said.

UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for the university. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. Learn more at https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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